I was enrolled for tuition classes in 10th. Our teacher was a South Indian Muslim. Sorry, I have erased his name from my mind on purpose. He stayed in Uttranchal- next to my society. Ashish studied in Modern School and we used to sit for our classes in the evening together. His name as on papers was Himanshu; but was I to address him as that? Nopes.. Love and all that!!
Shalini Saxena also traveled in the same 327- school bus. We had become friends. I would pass her letters to her boyfriend and then carry his back to her.. Now, the day the two of them met- you know what!! Sparks flew in the air. Even though I had cautioned Ashish, he had let his feelings develop for her. Eventually, she dumped him.
Looking back, I guess that teens is the time to enjoy and to not commit. But once you do; it sticks to you- mostly. My 1st official boyfriend had happened- same circle; obviously. Shalini and Vishal are married now. Good for them.
About me, Sanju; as I called him then, was little too insecured. Why?? I had gone on my 1st ever official date on 16th November, 1991. Hell- I remember that. It came to me as a shock. Exploring physically was certainly foreign to me. Guys, I said “physically” only. I had laughed it off as a poor joke.
Checked back with Shalini; oh yes, that’s how that was supposed to be. Really? He studied in 12th in Anglo Sanskrit School with Vishal. He would diligently carry my bag and walk with me till my Society Gate often. He had warned me that I better score good in 10 baords. Nivedita, my cousin’s friend, had come to my support. He had a crush on her too..!!
That’s exactly what I said that Teens is to only enjoy and understand and certainly not to jump. Either to commitment or relation and or on the couch.
Now, two things happened one after the other and Ashish is now in the Hall of Fame. I don’t recall the sequence though.
Ashish, I, Shalini and her friend Shilpi often walked from Tilak Bridge to reach school. Ashish used to break at the 1st right turn for Modern School. Shilpi’s father had once “caught” us walking. I am not saying so; this is their version. Both Shilpi and Shalini’s dad had come home charging- what for? We were only walking- remember??
That South Indian Tutor had then handled it in a very matured way. He had simply stated that kids walking on the road meant nothing. Wait, don’t we all grow up to marry or commit to the opposite one- often? Then why this fuss?? What could have happened on the road possibly? I am tired. Travelling in a public transport was fine where often lechers used to strip us down visually and shamelessly press themselves against us in pretense. However, making friends with boys was a sexual crime- pseudo- standards of our illiterate rural society.
Our Society has not graduated- not even an inch.
Sampada had one day stopped me in recess saying she had wanted to speak with me. She did. She expressed concern that my boyfriend smoked.. And when did she see that happening? While I and “that guy in blue school uniform” walked together the other day; after splitting, he had light up a stick..
Aaw.. that was my turn to laugh. And I did. She had kept on talking. She was so concerned about my Modern School boyfriend smoking “behind” me. I had only said that I knew of that. OMG, that was my turn to be judged after having said that. I had let her carry on with whatever she had to say. She had noticed my cool about the whole stance- why was I to bother? He wasn’t my boyfriend.
Our friendship had happened. I am blessed. I am writing about the beginning of our friendship, exactly on a Friendship Day- today. She had given me Guns-n-Roses to listen to; and Pony Boy, happens to be our signature song. Why? because of all the heavy metal rock, I had liked that lullaby type track.
Today while searching for the track on YouTube, I discovered that it was actually a lullaby. Well, we sing that together every time that we meet.. We did that the last time too and will do that the next time too.
It had been anything other than a smooth sailing. People, relatives, situations, circumstances- all of them had thrown huge rocks to hit us down. So far, we have braved all of those. I have often felt why Ruby wasn’t a man?? That’s when Himanshu (and not Ashish) had pointed out that maybe then, we would have never met. TRUE..
I will depict all that we have lived through. More often than not, it is she, who has kept this bond alive. Together, we have sailed through loads of ups and downs. Many of which have been unpleasant too. She has held my hand through all such stances. She has stood by me without any condition.
A friend, sibling or a companion; maybe all of those. I am because she is. It’s not at all tough for me to admit that. Instead, would be a shame if I don’t say that. I still fail to understand that why Ruby had done all that she has for me. Like everyone else had; she too could have expressed her helplessness; she didn’t. It’s an honor to be able to write about her, our friendship and the days we have spent together.
As she had once pointed out; our relationship is highly formal. No one has taken the other one for granted- ever. Even though that our take about a thing maybe diametrically opposite: we never ended up arguing; much alone- bitter. Reason- we have respected each other’s view. We may not approve of or subscribe to many things about one another; so what? We are 2 individuals; we are bound to be different. And we have been more than aware of that..
Difficult? No. Not if Ruby is my friend. She has definitely taken the definition far above or maybe to a different plane all together. We had become friends in teens. Only a couple of months later, she had changed her school. We had lost touch for the next 2 years. I had almost agreed upon that she may have moved on like everyone else does.
And then, she had stepped back in exactly when mom had left me and stayed with me- ever since.